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G. W. Howe Company records

Identifier: MS0192

Scope and Contents

The G.W. Howe Store Records, 1912-1969, document the activities of a mill town store in Belmont, North Carolina. The records give us a glimpse of the daily operation of the store from store invoices of goods purchased to credit ledgers of store customers. Records indicate that the store functioned as a general store dealing in grocery items, dry goods, seed, animal feed, hardware, farm machinery and livestock. The collection includes 15 boxes of invoices from various vendors as well as several ledgers referring to daily sales and customer credit accounts. Another box contains banking and tax information from the store. This collection offers two points of historical significance. First it offers a glimpse of a grocery store in the mill town of Belmont, Gaston County, NC. The ledger books contain not only the monthly summary of the store but also list individual customer accounts with credits and debits. Secondly, the invoices themselves offer great insight into the distribution of goods and the consumer interests for the time period covered. The time period is also of interest as it covers World War I, the Great Depression, and the labor problems of North Carolina's textile mills, particularly the strike in Gaston County in 1929.


  • 1915 - 1965


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Although the exact date of its opening is unknown, it is believed that the store opened its doors on Main Street in Belmont, NC in the late 1800's under the ownership of George Ragan. The store had several owners between its inception and 1915, the most prominent being S.P. Stowe and G.M. Gullick under whom it was known as S.P. Stowe and Company. In 1915, Stowe and Gullick dissolved their partnership and G.W. Howe took over the store. It operated under the name G.W. Howe & Company until its closing in the late 1960's/early 1970's. In its early years, the store served as a gathering place for farmers that had come to Belmont from the surrounding communities to have their cotton ginned. Early accounts describe the store as being a social center where men would meet to tell tall tales, chew tobacco, and pitch horseshoes. The store's biggest business was farm equipment and seed, although as Belmont began to grow during the 1920's invoices show that the store carried a wide variety of hardware, clothing, household items and basic food staples such as coffee, sugar, and flour to meet the needs of the booming mill town. Most of the vendors used by G.W Howe were local wholesalers and millers and most of the goods came from within a 100 mile radius of Belmont, although some national companies such as Armour Meats and The National Biscuit Company were on the books as early as 1917. The store delivered groceries to patrons by horse and wagon until 1912 when G.M. Gullick bought a touring car and cut it down to make a truck out of it. The groceries were delivered in the same wooden boxes until the store closed. The foremost authority on the stores history was C.P. Armstrong who started working for the store as a receiving clerk in 1912. In the 1920's Armstrong became the store manager and later went on to become the store's owner. According to accounts from Armstrong published in a 1963 Gaston Gazette newspaper article, G.W. Howe was the prototypical general store, complete with a potbellied stove and benches and chairs on the front porch.


22 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1. Ledgers (1912-25); 2. Invoices/Receipts (1913-21; 1920-36, 1945, 1955, 1962-67); 3. Banking/Taxes (1929-69)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Linda Weatherford, 1988.

Processing Information

Processed by James Kusak; minor revisions made, Oct. 2012


G. W. Howe Company Records
Finding aid written by James Kusak.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated

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